Linda Marchant and myself stood and watched in silence as the Marble Factory Dojo burnt to the ground. All my life seemed to go before me, the only thing worse an this was the death of my dear mother. It was the same feeling, all my world and all my feelings had gone, I just did not care about life or living. I felt that my entire strength had been taken from me, 27 years of work and history had gone up in smoke, I kept asking myself why? and God only knows, he moves in mysterious ways.
Linda looked at me and then we hugged, she said "come on Sensei there's nothing here for us lets start again", and it was these that words that lifted me up, I continued to teach in a school hall twice a week, which was not far from the Marble Factory Dojo so all the children and adults continued to train with me.
I was determined to start a full time dojo again, how would I manage to get funding for this project?
One night during training I spoke about the Marble Factory Dojo and all the good times and people that trained at the dojo, and helped me to achieve my dream. I was quite emotional, I had to turn my back as my eyes filled with tears. Then I turned to them and said will you help me build a new Honbu Dojo, the look on their faces was one of an eagerness to help.
The next year we worked hard to raise money, some people that heard that the Dojo had been destroyed by fire gave me money to help, some gave a lot some gave a little, the important thing is that every little helps. From the Sheffield Dojo of Sensei Andy Barker, a couple of cheques for £1,200, which showed great devotion and a desire to see a new honbu dojo. From abroad amounts of £100, £200, and £300 came in from various countries, there was such a response because people believed in what was good.
The children would ask their family members, and friends to sponsor them, we would do 2000 techniques in 45 minutes, it was all above board, we would have an independent time keeper and a witness to count how many techniques were performed. Then the children and adults would gather the money over a period of 6 weeks, after it was all collated there was £8,500 pounds. Thanks to all that believed in this dream. As to the work, the members and their families did most of it everyone wanted to be a part of the dojo. This was a place for families to come for their own time and space. The new dojo allows greater flexibility in training, as now when the children train we have the facilities that allows their parents to train at the same time. This gives great satisfaction to families that attend the dojo. Here are some of the names of the people that helped me achieve my dream,
The Almighty My own determination The Children of Southwark Phil Jeffries Mark Searle Terry and Jane Read Tony O'Brian Steve White Linda Marchant Andy Barker Phil Pottle Kevin Devlin Brian Smallwood Pat Turner
If I missed anyone you are still in my heart. I thank you all, it would not have been possible without your hard work, personal sacrifices, financial assistance and belief in me.
The strange thing was the Thursday before it happened, I said to my wife I would like to take some a panoramic views of the dojo for posterity.